Look at any office park, a public play ground and park, the local campus, or just about any public space in existence and appraise the common elements that you find in each of them. These are areas that are pleasing to the eyes, possess coordinated features; and they are well designed. The individuals that are responsible for their design are landscape architects. Responsible for beauty and functionality, architectural landscaping is the art and science of placing sidewalks, plants, flowers, fences, trees, just about every element to an area where humans and nature meet. The field is also responsible for the restoration of natural areas once disturbed by modern civilization, reestablishing the natural habitat for many forms of life and covering up the evidence that humans has ever encroached upon the territory.
No matter what the job category, landscape architects will be employed by a variety of organizations, from working for the municipality to aid in construction of state or local parks and airports, to larger, private firms working on a new project. The landscape architect will work with other architects, engineers, and other individuals in the construction project to ensure the harmonious and safe placement of many of the projects features, such as roads, buildings, plant life, etc. Conversationalists will also work with environmental scientists and other professions in order to find ways to best protect or rebuild natural resources.
After collaboration, it falls upon the landscape architect to plan out placement of all of the elements, from plants to man-made structures. Factored into the equation is the natural climate of the area, the human, natural, and automotive traffic of the area, where the sun points, etc. These factors will assist the landscape architect during the design process. It is after this and all researching steps that the landscape architect will start the design process. The first step is usually to work within a CAD program or similar tool to layout the initial plan. This will include making sure all local, state, and federal laws and statutes are followed. To aid in client visualization, the architect may use video, GIS technology, and so on.
Throughout the process the landscape architect will consult other professionals involved with the project to complete the project. Once complete, they will submit to their client a proposal that includes detailed plans for the site, models, photographs, research for background, and an estimate of how much the project will cost. If the design is approved by the client, it must get approved by any regulatory agencies. Passing this step, more detailed drawings are made where complete bills of materials and a more specific cost estimate is made. During the actual construction of the site, the landscape architect will work to oversee the project to ensure it follows the plan set forth.
Architectural landscaping jobs involve a lot of different common elements which are first planned in an office and then taken out into the world and brought to life for real. These elements include:
- Topography - The form of the land with its slopes, storm water runoff and surface drainage, and where favorable views may exist for example.
- Geological conditions, including soil and hydrologic conditions, surface analysis, subsoil testing, geologic mapping and other testing that provides important information regarding susceptibility to erosion, rock strata, aquifers, wetlands, soil conditions, seismic stability and more, which can all affect planting and grading options in an architecture landscape design.
- Climate and microclimate characteristics, including sun and shade, wind, precipitation and temperature.
- Indigenous wildlife and vegetation and their habitats. Even within cities, diligent architectural landscapers will study and advocate the use of plant species that are native, and they also will worry about animals inhabiting the natural features of a site before they do any planning or building.
- Existing buildings. Designers must also pay attention to what has already been constructed, including bridges, roads, buildings, retaining walls, overhead utilities, underground utilities, fences and everything use on, around and under the site. Any existing structures that influence the composition of a landscape design, pedestrian access or vehicular access, land views, and land uses must all be taken into consideration before any architectural landscaping project sees the light of day.
Architects come in a wide variety of different types. Some design buildings, and others are simply charged with designing landscaping concepts. Architectural landscaping jobs are jobs that involve creating landscaping elements like plants, trees, flowers, paving, retaining walls, water features, artwork, outdoor future, and even outdoor lighting to create incredible results.